Elder patient doing tracheostomy using ventilator for breathing help.

What is a Tracheostomy?

Sierra Care | September 23, 2020


What is a Tracheostomy?

What is a tracheostomy? You may have heard the procedure referred to as a “tracheotomy.” What this actually refers to is an incision that is made, which allows for a breathing tube to be inserted through the neck into the trachea instead of the nose or mouth. It is actually a common procedure with on average, over 100,000 tracheostomies are performed in the United States every year. 

In general, a tracheostomy (trachea) is performed when:

  • There is an obstruction in the airway.
  • A patient has inefficient oxygen delivery to the lungs.
  • A patient has problems with secretions.
  • A patient requires long term intubation.

Once the incision is made, a tube is placed which holds the airway open. From here, a patient may be able to breathe on their own. If not, then this tube, which is oftentimes referred to as a “trach,” enables support from a mechanical ventilator. 

So, while a tracheostomy does not always work in conjunction with mechanical ventilation, it can depending on the patient needs. The goal with this treatment is to help the lungs do their job, delivering much needed oxygen to the circulatory system.

The Sierra Care Way

When you or a loved one are faced with the prospect of a new tracheostomy, you might feel overwhelmed with strong emotions — and uncertain what to do about long-term care. Tracheostomies are often an unexpected, major medical event that can leave patients grappling with serious day-to-day lifestyle changes. At Sierra Care, our team of nurses, respiratory therapists, and practitioners are experts specializing in tracheostomy and pulmonary care, as well as ventilator support. We’re here to bring a calming, healing approach that results in excellent patient outcomes and a better recovery experience all around.